To demonstrate a new method for fabricating three-dimensional living biological structures, researchers at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Industrial Science (IIS) have created a 5-millimeter tall doll composed of living cells.
According to an announcement made on January 22, the researchers created the tiny figurine by cultivating 100,000 cell capsules -- 0.1-millimeter balls of collagen, each coated with dozens of skin cells -- together inside a doll-shaped mold for one day. After the cell capsules had coalesced to form the doll-shaped mass of tissue, it was placed in a culture solution, where it reportedly survived for more than a day.
The researchers, led by IIS professor Shoji Takeuchi, also successfully tested the biofabrication method with human liver cells. According to Takeuchi, the technique can be used to create bodily organs and tissues with complex cellular structures, which may prove useful in the fields of regenerative medicine and drug development.
"The overall shape can be controlled by changing the mold," said Takeuchi, who expressed a desire to combine multiple types of cells to create a complex system that functions as a living organism.